Monday, October 31, 2011

The Televangelist: "Grimm," Pilot

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 11:14 AM

WHEN THINGS  GET MESSY: Its hard being the Chosen One
  • NBC.com
  • WHEN THINGS GET MESSY: It's hard being the Chosen One

NBC's "Grimm" - not to be confused with ABC's "Once Upon A Time" - is a real world / fairytale crossover with a police procedural twist. It's a neat concept, but so far there aren't many twists to "Grimm" that shock us out of a compendium of clichés. In fact, the most fantastical thing I saw was the fact that neither Nick (David Giuntoli) nor his partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) had to fill out any paperwork!*

"Grimm" follows the premise of a "chosen one," Nick, who is the last of the Grimms. The Grimm family has been protecting humanity from scary things for a long, long time. And those fairytales? They're real warnings. The lesson from this week's Red Riding episode seemed to be, largely, "don't wear red if you go running alone in the woods!" As NBC has long said, "The more you know!"

It's always difficult, and rather unfair, to judge a show by its pilot, so I'll be spending the next two weeks staying with "Grimm" to see if it finds its feet. I'm cautiously optimistic. In some ways it reminds me of my much beloved and gone-too-soon "Pushing Daisies." It's fantastical and whimsical and has a fun little Case of The Week that relates somehow to the protagonist's special powers (in "Pushing Daisies" it was about Ned's ability to bring the dead back to life to help him solve crimes. In "Grimm" it's Nick's family book that explains some of the traits of the evil forces attacking his town - and him. Oh plus that nifty medieval weapons cache his Aunt has in her trailer). I'll give "Grimm" a break on its Foundation of Obvious as regards the Chosen One trope, because it does serve as a familiar way to acquaint us instantly with Nick and his character's trajectory. I recently finished watching the British crime series "Luther," which was initially criticized for its reliance on cop clichés (the title character, played by the wonderful Idris Elba, was that kind of ole cranky genius detective type who doesn't play by the rules and is still hung up on his ex-wife. Sound familiar?). But "Luther" found a way (mostly through some stellar acting) to define itself outside of the expected and into the engaging, and one way it did so was with the inclusion of a character (who I can't name for spoiler reasons) on the wrong side of the legal and moral spectrum, but who acts as a foil and eventually friend to our main character. "Grimm" set up a similar premise with Silas (Eddie Monroe), a (literal) big bad wolf - reformed - who helped Nick track down one of his unreformed brethren. From what I've read this is not the last we'll see of Silas, which is a good thing. Like Angel in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," it looks like we'll get some understanding of "the other side" through one of its mostly benevolent members, making "Grimm" a little more fun and slightly more complex.

At the end of the day, my litmus test for "Grimm" boils down to the fact that I was tired, sick and a little cranky when I watched it, and I was still charmed enough to look forward to next week. And if that doesn't tell you all you need to know, I don't know what else to say!

Musings and Miscellanea:

— * = police procedural joke

— Nick: "I've already cried wolf once!" I've never met a pun I didn't like. Well played, "Grimm."

— My friend Jen told me to keep an eye on Sasha Roiz, ("Caprica") who plays Captain Renard. There wasn't much of him this week, but I'll look forward to more of him in the future!

— "Grimm" is really fond of the inner-closet camera angle, isn't it? There were 3 of them this week!

— "I stay straight through a strict regiment of diet, drugs and pilates" - Silas

— Did "Grimm's" special effects remind anyone else of "Buffy"?

— Product Placement Watch: Nike, iPhone, iPod

— I was only half joking about the paperwork. But as a longtime fan of police procedurals, I know that that's really half of it. There have been a spate of "detectives solving crimes through voodoo" recently, and I'd like to see "Grimm" be a little more realistic about the challenges Nick might face from his co-workers (a la "Dexter") about how it is he always ends up shooting bad guys in the middle of the night.

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